Last Thursday, exactly at midnight, Neo Software, one of the oldest game development companies in Austria and certainly the biggest in Vienna, changed their name to Rockstar Vienna.
The fact that Neo was bought by Take Two Interactive in February of 2001 - almost two years ago - was not very well-known outside of Austria, as evidenced by the fact that last Thursday's news was occasionally reported as 'Rockstar buys Neo'.
Although some people in the Austrian game development scene regret the passing of the name Neo Software, the name change is positive for the company itself. It shows the confidence and commitment of Take Two: worldwide, there are only five Rockstar development studios.
But as Harald Riegler from Sproing Interactive observed, this is good news for Viennese game development in general. It draws attention to the fact that there are world-class developers in Vienna, which will help attract talent and investment to all of the game developers over here.
The name change was the big surprise announcement at Neo Software's ten year anniversary party, which was held at the Palmenhaus in Vienna. It was the perfect occasion: a symbolic, yet meaningful change, at a party commemorating a symbolic, yet meaningful anniversary. The symbolism was pervasive: at midnight exactly, the Neo Software website changed to the current Rockstar Vienna website, including a new URL and new email addresses for everyone. Even the little picture of the office entrance in the Contact section sported the new logo, which I found a most impressive detail. At the party, the Neo logo which was projected onto the Hofburg changed to the Rockstar Vienna logo, and the game covers which were hung up outside had been exchanged with Rockstar logos.
At the party, the fresh Rockstar Vienna employees took it all in stride: Me: "Hey, congratulations!" Rockstar Vienna Employee: "Are you a rockstar?" Me: "No." Rockstar Vienna Employee: "SECURITY!"
Some things never change.